Jay‑Z: The Evolution of My Style

Shawn Carter – the MC, entre­pre­neur, and recent best-sell­ing author who is known to every­one but his moth­er as Jay‑Z  – proved with the 2010 pub­li­ca­tion of his mem­oir Decod­ed that he is not only one of hip-hop’s top artists, but also one of its top inter­preters.

In Decod­ed, Jay‑Z offers lit­tle in the way of new per­son­al details. He’s been telling that sto­ry in his raps for twen­ty years now – from his father­less child­hood in the projects, to his years deal­ing crack cocaine, to his star­dom, and final­ly to his cur­rent suc­cess as a busi­ness­man and cul­tur­al icon. And what­ev­er the 41-year-old has­n’t divulged yet, he may well have been advised by a lawyer to keep to him­self. Instead of auto­bi­og­ra­phy, Decod­ed pro­vides some­thing much more valu­able, a thought­ful analy­sis of his own lyrics and the his­to­ry of his cho­sen art form. Jay‑Z  helps us under­stand that he and hip-hop are rough­ly the same age, and that their sto­ries are almost inter­change­able: When young Shawn Carter first fell in love with the sound of rhymes over beats in Brook­lyn in 1978, he was dis­cov­er­ing the new music just as the new music was dis­cov­er­ing itself.

Ran­dom House has just released an iPad appli­ca­tion of Decod­ed, adding about thir­ty min­utes of mul­ti-media con­tent, includ­ing the video above. You might also want to check out Jay-Z’s appear­ance on Char­lie Rose (on Youtube in 5 parts) and his recent inter­view on Fresh Air.

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  • sepianne says:

    It’s hard to care. I under­stand the mis­sion of this web­site, but frankly, I think Jay‑z and his ilk have done noth­ing to earn the respectabil­i­ty they have except that they are quite wealthy, hav­ing prof­it­ed might­i­ly from misog­y­ny and the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of crime and drugs.
    There’s lit­tle to admire in that. And noth­ing notably “cul­tur­al” in my opin­ion.

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